This is the Committee's Annual Report that appeared in the March 2010 journal:
The Committee would like to thank all who have put so much effort into the running of the Society. The Committee has met regularly to ensure the effective running of the Society. The Society is continuing with its planed programme of sponsoring, preservation and joint agreements for the publication of Parish and Cemetery records. The Society also continues to be represented at various fairs and at the meetings of the Federation of Family History Societies as well as at meetings with other FHS’s in Kent. The Society Library has been relocated to Bexley in a joint venture with Kent County Council that has provided more facilities for research and education. This has led to an increase in people attending. A meeting of all Society Task-holders was held in October. It is anticipated that 2010 will be another busy year with further progress on various projects for publication.
The Society’s finances remain sound and are likely to show a surplus for 2009 despite the downturn in the economy. Our main income streams have only been affected marginally. Our funds in 2009 have been boosted inordinately by the receipt of gift aid due to us over a period of about three years and our expenditure on the conservation and recording of local records has reduced. This reduction is due in part to a reluctance of local archivists to commit themselves to new projects at a time of intense commercial activity in this field. As a Society we are still committed to investing in the conservation of records and archived documents. The audit of the gift aid donors took many hours and I am very grateful to our Membership Secretary, Christine Barnett and Renewal Secretary Maureen Griffiths for their excellent record system and all their hard work and advice on this project.
The Society also owes a vote of thanks to the Projects and Publications committee members lead by Mr Robert Woodward. Their duties include organising events and managing the complex systems that raise a sizeable proportion of our funds by promoting and selling the society’s publications. I would like to thank all my fellow committee members who have supported me throughout the year and especially Walter Eves our Chair. I would also like to extend our thanks to Mr Alyn Mason who stepped in as book keeper whilst the post of Treasurer remained vacant.
2009 has seen a few major changes where our Society is concerned, all of which have proved to be successful. Due to rebuilding, our Dartford Branch moved to a brand new school building, facilities of which are an improvement on the older building; the Library moved to a new venue in Joydens Wood, thanks to the encouragement of Kent County Council; Isabel Leslie stepped forward to become our new Treasurer and Barbara Attwaters became the new Chair of Sevenoaks. The Library venue has proved to be a very good move for us, with facilities much improved, more members visiting it than ever before, plus people just visiting, joining as new members. Our thanks and gratitude for all their hard work must go to Janet Rose, David Turner, Tony Rowley and all other volunteers who have helped to make our Library so successful.
Apart from the changes, it must not be forgotten that Barbara Phillips together with her ladies work extremely hard, representing our Society at Fairs & Libraries, practically on a monthly basis, nor Robert Woodward’s dedication to the production of CDs/DVDs following consultation and agreement with local archives. I would also like to extend the Society’s appreciation to Pauline Heathcote, our new Editor, for the great job she is doing with the production of our quarterly Journals. Lastly, I would like to personally thank all of you who stood in for me during my own home move from Dartford to Allington, especially Jerry Cope for his Minute taking at the 2009 AGM.
It became necessary for the Library to move from Hextable Heritage Centre where it was located since 2001. Kent County Council Library service offered us the use of their library, a room, kitchen and storeroom at the Summerhouse Drive Library Joyden’s Wood, Bexley. An Exhibition held in the main library proved successful and the Library moved in April 2009. The official opening by Lady Teviot of "Heir Hunters" fame held in June was attended by the Mayor of Dartford, members of K.C.C .Libraries section and representatives of N.W.K.F.H.S. Residents on the Estate discovering our facilities flocked in. The three K.C.C. library computers with access to the internet and the Ancestry programme etc. have proved to be so popular that Dongles, giving access to internet sites such as Free BMD on the laptops in our room, have been purchased to ease the situation.
Our large collection of books, CDRoms and DVDs are available to consult. Donations of books have been made and thanks are due to David Turner who has kept the catalogue up to date. Thanks are also due to the loyal volunteers who give up their valuable time each week to help our visitors trace their ancestors. Without them the library could not function. We have enrolled at least one new member each week since April. Following an article in the local press there was a great deal of interest, which caused the librarian’s answer phone to be inundated with calls. Several new members have enrolled and others hope to visit the Library after Christmas. The Tape Library is now available at the library.
A sub-committee is looking at providing a "Lookup" service. Volunteers would be needed to assist at home or at the library doing research. If anyone out of area is prepared to help, please contact the editor or myself on 01322 384836 or by letter at 15, Knockhall Chase, Greenhithe, Kent, DA9 9EW. Depending on the response a plan will be put to the members at the A.G.M.
A small group of people meet fortnightly on Fridays to carry out project work on databases/indexes for the 10 Bexley Hospital Medical Superintendent’s Minute books 1903-1920. The names are mainly hospital workers or contractors. Indexing is also taking place for Parish Registers for St. Mary’s Stone and an Index of children and teachers in The Brent School, Stone, Registers and Log Books from 1883-1953, Monumental Inscriptions at the Council Cemetery of Stone, St. James’s Lane. Maureen Wilkins has guided us through spreadsheets etc and requires help to format the finished product to make it ready for publication. If anyone feels that they could help please contact Janet Rose.
Projects and Publications
Work continues on our Project for the filming, digital scanning, writing to disc and publishing the original Registers for the Parishes that lie in our area. Despite our hopes it was not possible to access the records held by the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone and the holdings of the Bromley Archives. However, we are hopeful that work on some of the Bromley holdings can commence in 2010. We also intend to look at processing Parish Chest documents held by the Medway archives.
During 2009, transcription of various records continued and we hope to publish some of this work in 2010. A number of new items, ranging from Methodist church registers to facsimiles of Victorian parish register transcriptions were published. Notwithstanding the introduction of some LMA London records online by the pay-to-view site Ancestry, our sales of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lewisham & Plumstead parish register discs held up well. The accuracy of the transcriptions made by our Volunteers is of a much higher standard than much of that available online. Sales of publications at Events and by Post & Online amounted to £11300 - £3300 of bought in publications, both books & discs, together with £8000 of discs published by the Society.
The Bromley Branch has continued to operate this year with the same committee as the previous year, under the leadership of Angela Verrells. Unfortunately, we were not able to relocate to a more suitable venue as we had hoped, so this very much remains an objective for next year. We would certainly welcome any suggestions from the membership. There has been an increase in attendance and of new members recruited. The bookstall continues to be popular and is well managed by June Vaisey and Constance Kemp, whilst the Information table run by Brenda Cope, always has a steady stream of visitors.
We were pleased to see staff from the Local Studies and Archives section of the Bromley Central Library attending some of our meetings, and a visit to this area of research in Bromley could well be very useful.
Lynn Woodward, our Programme Secretary, produced a varied and interesting collection of speakers covering subjects, such as:- The LDS Library; The Huguenots in Kent; Sir Joseph Bazelgete; Livery Companies and the City of London and Did your ancestors just appear out of thin air. The speakers included Ian Bevan; Joyce Hoad; Diana Rimel and Sharon Hintze. Our meeting venue can accommodate more visitors so why not give us a try and there is controlled parking adjacent to the hall (90p).
Attendance at the Dartford Branch meetings, on the first Saturday of the month, has continued to grow during 2009 and reached 137 in November. We moved into the new Technology College building in Heath Lane in April in time to host the Society’s A.G.M. which was very successful and have given members food for thought, pointing some in a new direction to research. I would like to thank Barbara Phillips for arranging the speakers. The sudden appearance of a stage at our October meeting caused Sheila Elisak, (our very efficient secretary), a few headaches, whilst attempting to fit in all the stalls at the meetings into the smaller space. Thanks to Jeanette Carter for organizing several trips to the National Archives at Kew which gave some of our new members a chance to see what is available there. 56 people enjoyed our Christmas Buffet after a most enjoyable presentation by Rudyard Kipling (alias Geoff Hutchinson). A big thank you to all the Dartford Branch stallholders and committee, without their loyalty and help the meetings would not be such pleasant and well organized events. The collection ( in lieu of Christmas cards ) taken for the Ellenor/Lions Hospice in memory of Charles Hammond and Mel Collins, raised £80. Thank you to everyone who contributed. It has been another successful year and we hope that 2010 will be equally, if not more successful.
This year has been one of struggle and change for the Branch starting with the resignation of David Williams as branch chairman. Several of our more senior and experienced members agreed to share the task until the post could be filled. So our thanks should go to Jean Stirk, Lyn Marsh and Hilary Kidd for all their time and effort over those months. I had been thinking about volunteering for the post but I waited until I retired from work in July. I was co-opted on to the committee in August. I have been very busy ever since!
Over the last few months there has been a steady increase in our numbers at the branch meetings and I think this can be attributed to a number of things. Early this year Sevenoaks Library held a local and family history day and we were asked if we would attend the event, several committee members and other volunteers attended. It was a very successful and enjoyable day and we will attend again in October 2010. Secondly various Local Libraries had approached the Events (Fairs) team with requests for some drop in and advice days for beginners which have also proved to be very popular and have drawn new people in from the surrounding areas.
Tea and coffee are now on a trial basis and our members have asked for it to continue as they can now mingle and have a chat and a browse before the speaker arrives.
Chris Barnett has worked hard to arrange an interesting variety of talks. I know from speaking to visitors and members that some have come especially to hear a particular talk that they have seen advertised either in the programme of events or on the web site. The year was completed in December with the Christmas social and Chris McCooey entertained us in the usual McCooey style with his talk - sensational, salacious and sad in Kent. I thank the committee for organising the evening.
I would a thank you to everyone both on the committee and other members who give their time every month to ensure that the hall is ready in time for our meetings and that things go smoothly on the night. I look forward to working with everyone during the coming months..